January 28, 2013

Fuel/Friends Chapel Session #21: Neil Halstead


There is something downright mesmerizing in the understated, persistent songs of Neil Halstead, former frontman of the bands Slowdive and Mojave 3 and pioneer of the shoegaze sound in England. I keep putting this chapel session on to play at nighttime, to quiet my racing mind like a hypnotist’s gold swinging watch in a darkened study somewhere, or like a metronome that whispers instead of clacks.

On the day we recorded this, an eddy amidst the rush of the workday all around us, Neil amiably walked up the wide central aisle of Shove Chapel with his guitar case in his hand and a tour manager who was doubling as a piano player on the gorgeous Steinway. Neil slowly wove a resonant, dappled set for us, with two songs from his rich new album Palindrome Hunches (2012, Brushfire Records). When reviewers talk about cozy sweaters and thoughtfulness in this album, they’re right, but that’s not to say that it is sleepy or at all boring. Rather, it feels quietly satisfying.

After the new songs, Neil turned to me and asked “Is it okay if I do a Damien Jurado cover?” I nearly choked. “Um, yeah, sure I guess that would be okay,” I replied. The results are as completely stunning as you would imagine. He also played a song I specifically requested that afternoon, “See You on Rooftops” – an older tune from 2002′s Sleeping on Roads (4AD), and one that he hadn’t played in so long that he had to remember how it went.

The whole session felt, to me, like a reawakening.

OCTOBER 17, 2012

Digging Shelters

Tied To You

Ohio (Damien Jurado)

See You On Rooftops


[wonderful photos & video by Kevin Ihle, all audio production as usual by the superheroes at Blank Tape Records]

Neil Halstead Side


  • Sounds awesome. And glad to hear some love for older Jurado stuff.

    Bart Wang — January 28, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

  • Absolutely beautiful. Love the newer songs too. Thanks Heather.

    Greg Harnett — January 28, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

  • Amazing. Greatest songwriter of my generation.

    Daniel McVey — January 28, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

  • So nice, Heather. This series is exceptional. Such a great idea and execution. Thank you.

    Roy — January 28, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

  • [...] Eine Weile vor seinem Konzert in Erlangen spielten Neil Halstead und sein Tourmanager/Mitmusiker John Herguth (Atlantic/Pacific) ein paar Songs – darunter auch ein Cover von Damien Jurados “Ohio” – für das US-Musikblog Fuel/Friends ein. Die komplette “Chapel Session” gibt es dort nun auch als kostenlosen Mp3-Download. [...]

    Neil Halstead « you sound great — January 29, 2013 @ 5:24 am

  • Awesome stuff!!! Heather, I don’t know if you remember, but it was Neil’s “Paint a Face” song that I had asked you about thru email a few yrs back…I have loved his tunes ever since.

    Kevin — January 29, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

  • [...] Read more here. [...]

    Republic Records — January 29, 2013 @ 11:28 pm

  • [...] grab the entire Fuel/Friends Chapel Session ASAP- it includes an absolutely devastating Damien Jurado cover AND it’s free. [...]

    ‘Digging Shelters’ (Fuel/Friends Chapel Session)- Neil Halstead | songsfortheday — January 30, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

  • I just came across this. High Hopes is one of my favorite songs, ever. So incredibly sad, so incredibly lovely.

    Emily — February 20, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

Comments RSS

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →